Daniel Yaiullo.

KoDee Martin, Emily Bradshaw, Leah Getz, Michael Gardiner and Daniel Yaiullo.

By: Darryl Reilly

“Sure, go coffin shopping without me!”, “Pop champagne at the table!” and “We’re all going through something!” are among the furious declarations hilariously spewed by the neurotic characters in playwright Daniel Yaiullo’s 20-minute wild comedy of revenge, Wronged; biting Larry David-style contemporary observations are matched with a stinging David Mamet-type construction.

The twitchy, self-absorbed and smartphone obsessed Steven is sitting in a restaurant and is confronted by the initially jovial Ryan who believes Steven has wronged him. Steven then contentiously interacts with his sister Emma over their recently deceased father’s funeral plans. Amiable female server Alex has a combative exchange with her haughty manager Jules over an open bottle of expensive champagne that was ordered for the table; there’s no one there to pay for it.

The lean, intense and vocally expressive Mr. Yaiullo plays Steven with seething rage, making his smooth-voiced delivery of profane epithets even funnier. The beaming Michael Gardiner brings everyman charm to the catalyst role of Ryan. Leah Getz and KoDee Martin are each riotous during their Kafkaesque restaurant server and manager battle of wills. The alluring Emily Bradshaw’s steely sister is a perfect foil for Yaiullo, she incites laughter when running out on the check.

Yaiullo’s direction is fast paced, yet focused, mining all the comedy and suspense possible. Most inspired are the characters’ entrances and exits from, and through the back of the theater past the audience. Wronged is a mirthful and edgy entertainment. It is playing as part of the Chain Theatre’s Winter One Act Festival ’24; this is a series of collections of short plays running through March 3, 2024. Wronged is performed in Program #14, along with these accomplished works:

Author Diane Davis combines realism with fantastical flourishes for her Night Becomes Morning. It is a haunting romantic encounter between an established male playwright and an aspiring older female playwright. Dylan Blue and Grace Kiley are commanding as the passionate couple conversing in insider New York City theater speak, while conveying the characters’ pathos. Director Leslie Kincaid Burby’s dynamic staging includes a roaring surrealistic tango.

A young couple’s romantic breakup inspires writer Jessica Gómez López’s touching and twisty Unison. The spirited Ms. Lopez and the engaging Vaughn M. Winton are poignant as the duo under Jasmine K Bernard’s steady direction.

Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story is the inspiration for playwright Helene Galek’s cheekily clever, Requiem For A Bench. David Michael Kirby and Stephen Christopher Marshall are each splendid as the archetypically verbal Albee-type figures comically and dramatically sparring in a park. Director Perryn Pomatto’s staging is of scope and clarity.

Queasiness abounds in author Francis Bogan’s insightful examination of two straight male best friends, Buddies. Zeke St. John and Joshua Danielson are each fierce, antic and resonant, as they clash over romantic revelations instigated by smartphone snooping. Mr. Bogan’s charged direction fulfills his perceptive vision.

Wronged (February 24 and 27, March 2, 2024)
Winter One Act Festival ’24: Program #14
Chain Theatre, 312 West 36th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit www.chaintheatre.org
Running time: 20 minutes with no intermission


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